Au Comptoir

The only encounter I had with French was years ago in highschool, and I’ve never learned the language well. Currently, my entire French vocabulary consists of probably less than a dozen words. Whenever I go to a French joint, which is not all that often, I always wonder if I should try speaking French to the staff or if I’m just being insulting by butchering their language. Such as the dilemma that I encountered when I visited Au Comptoir. They are a small French bistro located in Kits, on 4th Avenue. I stopped by the joint during breakfast hours, which goes from 8:00-11:00 on weekdays. I had their Breakfast Au Comptoir, which came with a variety of breakfast items.

Breakfast Au Comptoir ($14):


3.5/5
This came with egg cocotte, your choice of bacon or sausage (I had the sausage), country bread, potato rosti, and a side of salad. The salad was actually quite nicely dressed. The baked eggs were tender and had a custardy texture; it was a tad underseasoned, but nothing some salt won’t fix. The sausage was tender and juicy, although I did find it to be quite salty on its own. I actually ate it with the potato rosti, which had a great crispness on the outside and tender on the interior.

I really enjoyed my visit to Au Comptoir. The food was tasty, and although the portion wasn’t very large, it was quite rich and filling. The server I had was very attentive and professional. He spoke French, and I think I probably embarassed myself trying to say things like “merci” and “au revoir” and completely butchering the pronounciation as a result. All in all however, this is a place that I’d highly recommend checking out.

Summary:
Food: 3.5/5
Price: 4/5
Service: 4.5/5
Overall: 4/5
Recommendations: Breakfast Au Comptoir
Au Comptoir Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bon Cafe

Bon Cafe is located on the corner of 33rd and Main. The place used to be, many years ago, some kind of Chinese dim sum shop. This has now been replaced a Vietnamese joint. They have a menu consisting of pho, rice dishes, vermicelli and drinks. I had their Grilled Lemongrass Chicken, Deep Fried Spring Roll on Rice Vermicelli and Vietnamese Coffee.

Grilled Lemongrass Chicken, Deep Fried Spring Roll on Rice Vermicelli ($12.25):


3.5/5
I really enjoyed the spring roll, which was very crispy and had a nice savoury filling. The chicken was quite tender and juicy, although I would have liked it to be a bit more charred, and it was a tad underseasoned. The pickled vegetables were quite nice, but

Vietnamese Coffee, Cold ($5):


4/5
This consisted of drip coffee in a filter that’s over a cup containing a layer of condensed milk. You wait for the coffee to slowly flow into the cup and mix it with the milk. I wanted the coffee to be cold, so it came with a glass of ice. The coffee was quite strong and had a perfect balance of sweetness and bitterness with the condensed milk.

I really enjoyed the food at Bon Cafe. The prices were a bit on the higher end, but not unreasonable. This is a spot that’s worth checking out.

Summary:
Food: 4/5
Price: 3.5/5
Service: 3/5
Overall: 3.5/5
Recommendations: Grilled Lemongrass Chicken, Deep Fried Spring Roll on Rice Vermicelli, Vietnamese Coffee
Bon Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Guu Otokomae

Eating out with other people has its advantages and disadvantages. The main advantage (in addition to having the company of your friends, of course) is that you get to order more dishes without raising any questions from the staff. The disadvantage is that I’ve got less say over which dishes to order. Such is the case when I visited Guu Otokomae with a couple of my friends over the weekend. This is one of several establishments of the Guu franchise, a popular Japanese Izakaya in Vancouver. We went there during lunch time. In addition to tapas, they offer lunch sets (I cannot remember the exact prices for them, but they’re around $10). After much debate, my friends decided share two lunchsets (“Curry Chicken” and “Grilled Mackerel”) and some tapas (Negitoro Garlic, Spicy Calamari, and Chicken Kara-Age), the latter two of which I pushed for since I do love fried food.

Negitoro Garlic ($8.90):

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Negitoro Garlic

N/A
This consisted of chopped tuna and avocado and is served with garlic baguette. I wasn’t able to eat the tuna since I’m allergic to avocado, but I did have a slice of the baguette, which was crispy and buttery.

Spicy Calamari ($8.90):

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Spicy Calamari

4/5
This was deep fried squid served in a spicy tomato sauce. The tomato sauce had a great flavour, being tangy with just a slight bit of heat. The squid was a bit soggy from the sauce, but that didn’t bother me much.

Chicken Kara-Age ($8.90):

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Chicken Kara-Age

3.5/5
This consisted of pieces of boneless deep-fried chicken, and is served with hot & sour onion sauce and garlic mayo. The chicken was dark meat, and was thus tender and juicy, with a great crispy coating. The meat was a bit underseasoned and bland on its own, but did taste good with the garlic mayo.

“Curry Chicken” Lunch Special (around $10):

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“Curry Chicken” Lunch Special

3.5/5
This consisted of grilled chicken with curry sauce, rice, and salad. The chicken was dark meat, and was thus quite tender and juicy, although underseasoned and bland. The curry was thick and had a nice bit of heat, but I did find it to be a bit too salty.

“Grilled Mackerel” Lunch Special (around $10):


2.5/5
This came with a side of rice and miso soup. The mackerel was tender and well-seasoned. Unfortunately, it did have a rather unpleasant, fishy scent, which turned me off.

In spite of my general reluctance to eat out with others, I had a very good time with my friends at Guu. The food, while not outstanding, is still quite good and the prices are reasonable. The service is also friendly. This is a great place to visit with a couple of buddies to share some tapas.

Summary:
Food: 3.5/5
Price: 4/5
Service: 3.5/5
Overall: 3.5/5
Recommendations: Spicy Calamari, Chicken Kara-age
Guu Otokomae Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bangkok City Cafe

I always prefer dark meat over white, but I have to admit, white meat does have one advantage in that it doesn’t have bones and are hence easier to eat using utensils. That was what I discovered when I visited Bangkok City Cafe recently. They are a small Thai joint located in Kits that’s, I guess, a sort of a sister restaurant to Eat Me Thai, a joint that I’ve previously visited. In addition to their regular menu, they have lunch specials that are currently priced at $11.50. I had their BBQ Chicken off of their lunch menu and a Thai Iced Tea.

B.B.Q. Chicken Lunch Special ($11.50):


3.5/5
The lunch specials came with rice, salad and two fried wontons. I was delighted to see that it was dark meat, consisting of a whole chicken leg. The meat had a curry flavour and crispy skin; it was a bit bland on its own but tasted quite good with the tangy dipping sauce. It was bone-in however and quite difficult and messy to eat; I actually had to use my hands. I really enjoyed the fried wontons, which was crispy and had a sweet filling inside. The rice was a little overcooked and mushy, but had a great coconut fragrance.

Thai Iced Tea ($3.25):


3.5/5
The tea came with a layer of condensed milk on top. It was not overly sweet and had a nice tea fragrance and flavour.

I quite enjoyed my visit to Bangkok City Cafe. Although I struggled quite a bit with their bone-in chicken, the food was quite tasty and reasonably priced. The service was friendly. All in all, this is a good spot for some more than decent Thai food.

Summary:
Food: 3.5/5
Price: 4/5
Service: 3.5/5
Overall: 3.5/5
Recommendations: BBQ Chicken, Thai Iced Tea
Bangkok City Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Harvest Deli

During my recent visit to Tera V Burger, I noticed Harvest Deli. They are a small shop located in Kits on Broadway serving up a large menu of sandwiches, along with various sides like soup and salad. I decided to go and check the spot out this week. I had their Classic Reuben and Back from Rome to go.

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Classic Reuben & Back from Rome

Classic Reuben ($8.25):


4/5
This consisted of pastrami, Russian dressing, sauerkraut, and swiss cheese on grilled rye bread. The sandwich came with a very good amount of meat, which was tender, salty and flavourful. The sauerkraut provided a great bit of tanginess that cut through the richness of the meat and cheese. The bread was also perfectly grilled and crispy.

Back from Rome ($9.25):


3.5/5
This contained chicken breast, pesto, roma tomatoes, and boccocini on grilled ciabatta. The sandwich again has a good amount of filling. The chicken breast, while tender, was a little bland and underseasoned. The pesto had a nice, strong flavour, but was also not salty enough. The bread was again perfectly grilled and crispy.

I really enjoyed my visit to Harvest Deli. Although their chicken was a little bland, their pastrami sandwich was delicious. The prices are also very reasonable. I highly recommend checking this spot out for some good quality and affordable meals.

Summary:
Food: 3.5/5
Price: 4/5
Service: N/A
Overall: 4/5
Recommendations: Classic Reuben
Harvest Deli Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tera V Burger

I’m definitely not a vegetarian. I do love my meat. But I don’t mind trying vegetarian food now and again, as long as it’s tasty. My latest venture into vegetarian food was at Tera V Burger. They are a small joint located in Kits, on Broadway, best known for their meatless burgers (they have vegan options available as well). I had their Smokey No Bull Burger, to which I added Baked Yam Fries and a drink for a combo. While I was ordering my burger though, I heard another customer asking the man behind the counter something about a microwave, and he was like “We only use our microwave once every two years to thaw out some gluten free bun”. Not to mock anyone who’s actually got Celiac’s disease, but I thought it was funny.

Smokey No Bull Burger + Baked Yam Fries and drink ($14.49):


4/5
The burger consisted of a vegetarian pattie, and came with onions, swiss cheese, and barbecue sauce. With the combo, you get your choice of either a bottle drink or Jones soda; I went with the Jones. The pattie did not taste like meat, but was still very tasty for what was, and was flavourful, tender and juicy. The barbecue sauce provided a nice bit of sweetness and smokiness. The yam fries were crispy and had a nice sweetness; I did find them to be lacking in a bit of richness/flavour that fried fries have, but they were still tasty.

I quite enjoyed my visit to Tera V Burger. Even though their burgers don’t really taste like meat, they were still tasty. The staff was also quite friendly. This is certainly a joint worth checking out, even if you’re not a vegetarian.

Summary:
Food: 4/5
Price: 3.5/5
Service: N/A
Overall: 3.5/5
Recommendations: Burger, Yam Fries
Tera V Burger Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Simpatico

Simpatico appears to have odd hours. During most times I passed by the place in the morning/noon, I see that it’s closed; thus I assumed that the restaurant only had dinner service. However, recently when I was in the area at around 12, I saw that it was open. I decided to take the opportunity and headed into the restaurant. It was quite empty inside: there were only 1-2 other tables that were occupied. In addition to a regular menu consisting of popular Greek dishes, they also have a small lunch menu. I had their Small Canneloni Genovese and Souvlaki (Chicken Thigh).

Small Canneloni Genovese ($12.50):


3.5/5
This was filled with ground veal & pork and is served with garlic toast. The pasta was well cooked and tender, and had a great amount of ground meat. There was also a very good amount of tomato sauce, which was flavourful. I also really enjoyed the layer of cheese on top and the toast, which was well buttered.

Souvlaki, Chicken Thigh ($14.50):


3.5/5
This comes with your choice of either lamb, chicken breast, chicken thighs, beef, or pork (which they were actually out of), either pita or fries, tzatziki, and Greek salad. I had the chicken thighs and pita. The chicken was, of course, tender and juicy, and had a pretty good grilled/charred flavour. Unfortunately, I did find it to be a bit underseasoned and bland. The salad was well dressed and had a good amount of cheese; however, I’m not sure if it was feta that they used for the cheese was a little bland and not salty. The pita was fluffy and chewy; I do wish that they could have served the tzatziki on the side instead of on the pita itself, however.

I’m glad to have managed to catch Simpatico while they were open. The food wasn’t fantastic but still very good, and the prices were fair. Service-wise, the food did take a little long to come out, but the server I had was quite friendly and attentive. All in all, I definitely think that this is a restaurant worth checking out.

Summary:
Food: 3.5/5
Price: 4/5
Service: 3.5/5
Overall: 3.5/5
Recommendations: Canneloni Genovese, Souvlaki

Simpatico Ristorante Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Mercante

Ever since we started having lab meetings at noon, our PI started getting pizzas from Mercante so that the people wouldn’t have to sit through the meeting hungry. Unfortunately, I couldn’t take any photos of the pizzas in the middle of the meeting since 1) the lighting was usually terrible and 2) I didn’t want my fellow colleagues to question why I was taking photos. Thus, I decided to head over to the joint myself to write my review. The spot specializes in wood-fired Neapolitan pizzas, although they do also have some pastas and other desserts. I had their Tortellini and an Al Pesto Pizza.

Tortellini ($7.75):


3/5
This was in a cream sauce and is topped with parmesan. The pasta itself was a tad overcooked for me and didn’t appear to have much filling, and was a bit bland on its own. I did quite enjoy the sauce, which was creamy albeit a tad bit underseasoned.

Al Pesto Pizza ($12.50):


3.5/5
This was topped with pesto, prosciutto, cheese, artichokes, and tomatoes. The crust wasn’t very crispy, although it was thin and flavourful. There was a good amount of topping. The pesto was very flavourful, albeit a bit on the salty side; I really enjoyed the tomatoes, which provided a great tanginess. Unfortunately, I wasn’t a big fan of the artichokes.

Although I wasn’t the biggest fan of the pasta at Mercante, I really did enjoy their pizzas. The prices are quite reasonable. While this is not the best pizza joint that I’ve been to, but definitely a good choice if you’re on campus.

Summary:
Food: 3.5/5
Price: 4/5
Service: N/A
Overall: 3.5/5
Recommendations: Al Pesto Pizza
Mercante Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thai Son – Victoria Dr.

I’ve been pretty much snowed in for the past couple of days. Not wanting to go out far from my house, I decided to check out Thai Son for lunch recently. They are a cash-only Vietnamese restaurant with several locations in Vancouver. The one that I went to was on Victoria Drive, which was built in the location where a Church’s Chicken used to be. They have quite a large menu of various noodle soups, as well as rice and vermicelli dishes. I had a small Vietnamese Beef Brisket Stew with Egg Noodles and Grilled Lemongrass Pork Chops on Steamed Broken Rice. Unfortunately, I forgot the exact prices of the dishes; all I remember was that they were both under $10.

Vietnamese Beef Brisket Stew with Egg Noodles, Small (around $9.50):


4/5
This contained beef brisket, egg noodles, and carrots. The noodles had a really nice bouncy texture. There was a pretty good amount of meat present, which while a bit on the chewy side, was still tasty. I particularly enjoyed the broth though, which was rich and quite flavourful, with just a slight bit of heat.

Grilled Lemongrass Pork Chops on Steamed Broken Rice (around $9.50):


4/5
This came with a small side of soup, which was just broth. The pork chops themselves were quite tender and juicy, and did have a grilled flavourful and fragrance. The rice was also well-cooked, with a nice bouncy texture.

I quite enjoyed my visit to Thai Son: the food was quite tasty and the prices were quite inexpensive (they also have an additional 10% off during Tuesdays). The only negative is that the service wasn’t particularly friendly/helpful, but that is to be expected i most types of joints like these. I think it’s definitely worth checking out.

Summary:
Food: 4/5
Price: 4/5
Service: 2.5/5
Overall: 3.5/5
Recommendations: Beef Brisket Stew, Grilled Lemongrass Pork Chops
Thai Son Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Paris Bakery

When I hear a place named “Paris Bakery” I’d assume a fancy French patisserie. Not so for the shop of that name that’s located on The Drive. No, they are actually a Vietnamese Banh Mi joint in the same vein as Banh Mi Saigon, which I visited about a month ago. In addition to various Banh Mi sandwiches, they also have appetizers and drinks. Everything appears to be made on order, and I do think that they make their own baguette. I had their Salad Rolls, Lemongrass Chicken Banh Mi, and Paris Special Banh Mi.

Salad Rolls ($6):


3.5/5
These are stuffed with vermicelli, veggies, shrimp and pork and comes with dipping sauce. The rolls have a nice texture, with the noodles being chewy and bouncy and the veggies providing crunch. They are bland on their own, but tasty when dipped into the sauce, which was slightly tangy and had a slight peanut flavour. They also appear to wrap the rolls on order, which is impressive.

Lemongrass Chicken Banh Mi ($4.75):


4/5
This banh mi was filled with pickled veggies, lemongrass chicken, and condiments like butter and mayo. The bread was crusty on the outside and chewy on the interior. There was a pretty decent amount of chicken, which was tender and juicy, and had a wonderful fragrance of lemongrass.

Paris Special Banh Mi ($4.75):


4/5
This was similar to the lemongrass chicken, but with various cold cuts instead of the lemongrass chicken. I personally didn’t find the meat here to be as flavourful as the chicken was, but it was still quite a tasty sandwich.

Even though I’m a bit disappointed that Paris Bakery’s not a patisserie, I still enjoyed my visit. Their banh mis, while not as large as the ones from Bah Mi Saigon, are just as tasty in my opinion, and the prices are very cheap. This is definitely worth checking out.

Summary:
Food: 4/5
Price: 4.5/5
Service: N/A
Overall: 4/5
Recommendations: Banh Mi
Paris Bakery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato